Beaverton School Board candidate pans 'critical race theory'
A candidate running for Beaverton School Board is receiving backlash after recent posts on her campaign page that led to a protest near the Beaverton School District building.
Jeanette Schade, who is running for Zone 1 against incumbent Susan Greenberg, is running on a platform opposed to "critical race theory" and comprehensive sexuality education.
On Monday, April 26, a crowd gathered on Southwest Jenkins Road and Murray Boulevard near the school district's headquarters to protest Schade and wave signs in support of anti-racism and LGBTQ rights, reported KOIN 6 News, a news partner of Pamplin Media Group. Video of the protest showed at least a few dozen attendees.
"Critical race theory which asks children to question their identity based on an immutable quality like skin color is racist, and I will continue to speak out against it as I campaign," said Schade in a Facebook post on April 26.
The Beaverton School District says that what it calls "culturally relevant teaching" (CRT) encourages educators to be conscious of their own biases and assumptions, create a learning environment where all students feel accepted, and work to understand how students' "race, language, culture, gender, and class, along with prior knowledge of content, shape their beliefs and expectations about learning."
Monday's protest took place after Schade accepted a $1,000 donation from Free Oregon, a political action committee founded by small business owner Ben Edtl. A self-described conservative, Edtl ran for Tigard City Council in 2020 but lost the packed race after receiving 9% of the vote.
The committee's website describes itself as a "populist/nationalist movement," and says that its goal is to balance the state senate and help more moderate candidates get elected to metro area councils.
After posting on Facebook about the donation, Schade — who lives in Tigard, although her residence is within the Beaverton School District's boundaries — says she received "attacks" on her Facebook page from several teachers in Beaverton and others she described as "Antifa/Black Lives Matter" activists.
The Beaverton Education Association, the teachers' union for the Beaverton School District, has endorsed Greenberg in the election.
"We look for candidates who are committed to strengthening public education, respecting school employees, maximizing student learning, and ensuring students' health and safety," the Beaverton Education Association stated in a Facebook post on Wednesday, April 28.
Schade has accused teachers of taking down her signs near school property.
"The school district is doing some things that are not conducive to be the development of children or their education, and people don't like it, and that's OK," said Schade. "They don't have to like it, but they don't have need to vandalize things. They don't need to steal signs. They don't need to create slander about me."
However, Schade did admit that she accidentally placed campaign signs on public medians, which she said she then went to remove but found they were no longer there.
According to the city of Beaverton, temporary political signs during an election should not be erected on public property or in the public right-of-way.
Katie Lukins, an executive board member with the Beaverton Education Association, says the teachers' union does not advocate for the illegal removal or vandalism of campaign signs.
The union represents more than 2,000 educators working in the district.
Schade has also come under fire for sharing a video on her campaign Facebook page on April 22 claiming that public schools push "transgenderism" on students as young as 5. The post received dozens of comments, the vast majority of them critical of the video and Schade's position.
"Lying about this issue to fan the flames against the trans community is a disgusting tactic," wrote one commenter. "You should be ashamed."
According to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, "transgenderism" is considered a term to avoid when interacting with or talking about the transgender community.
When asked about the criticism she faced about not being the right advocate for LGBTQ students in the district, Schade said, "I have worked with LGBTQ students pretty much my whole career, especially the 10 years I was teaching high school, and it's about the student and their educational opportunities that they have. It is not about their identity of who they are."
She added, "I am there to teach a student — I don't care if the student is gay, bisexual, pan, whatever the other letters in the letters in the LGBTQ-plus category go. I'm there to teach students what they need to know and the skills they need to know."
Schade said it's up to parents and professionals to a handle a student's "lifestyle stuff," or a student can join an after-school club.
Schade said she wants to move sex-ed courses to the appropriate age or grade levels and allow parents to opt their child out of Beaverton's "Great Body Shop" curriculum for elementary grade levels altogether, if they wish.
According to the Beaverton School District's website, the curriculum is an "instructional resource" adopted by the board to reach the district's elementary health learning targets.
Every elementary grade is taught different units and lessons. For example, kindergartners learn units on how to stay safe, what a family means and taking care of their bodies. Fifth-grade students learn more serious topics, such as sexual harassment, abstinence and drugs.
The district also lists human sexuality education standards for each elementary grade level, which were also adopted by the board. They address human sexuality, gender education, HIV/AIDS education and sexual abuse prevention.
Schade says sex-ed should be put into a box with health and biology curriculum instead.
"Typically, it's around the time where kids are entering puberty, which is usually about fifth- or sixth- grade, and it needs to be handled on a biological aspect," Schade said.
The candidate said she thinks parts of the Great Body Shop curriculum are good, but some parents object to supplemental materials that teachers can use in the classroom.
If elected to the Beaverton School Board, Schade says she's open to talking about disagreements with teachers, parents and students who may not agree with her viewpoints.
"I'm willing to have a dialogue with anybody who wants to do it respectfully and not have name calling," she said. "We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. My dad always told me, 'Listen, then you speak.'"
The Beaverton School Board election will be held on May 18.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.